The Old Man On The Mountain

A View From the Backwoods of NH

Imprints From Our Parents

I was talking with a friend today that I haven’t spoken with in quite a while. Sadly, I caught her at a bad time – she was on Cape Cod, attending a funeral for a friend. After a brief “how’ve you been” and “I’ll call again soon” I hung up and started to think about the last time we talked. And I remembered she had mentioned that her Mom had moved to the Cape years earlier, and that the Cape was where she and her family preferred to spend their summers.

And I started thinking about my folks, and how, as a child, we’d gone to the Cape a few times, but Lake Winnipesaukee was my family’s preferred vacation spot. It started back in the early sixties, when my sister was invited up by a friend whose family had a place on Meredith Bay. Every year after that, Dad found a way to squeeze in a 1-2 week vacation somewhere on the lake. The first time, he rented a boat – but that only lasted a couple of days. The next thing I knew, Dad had worked out a deal with Stan at Channel Marine to buy his first boat – a 15 footer with a 55hp Mercury outboard and a trailer to haul it. Also some water skiing equipment for my sister and her friends. Over the next 20 plus years, Dad would buy a couple more boats, always from Stan and always from Channel Marine.

And as I thought about this, I started drawing parallels to some of the things we do, consciously or unconsciously, based on what we learned from observing our parents. Now, I’ve been to the ocean plenty of times – but I wouldn’t summer on Cape Cod. Too many people and the water’s just plain cold. But I would summer on the beaches of the Carolinas – Wrightsville, Carolina or Myrtle – all of which are my favorite ocean spots. But I have to say, my true love is a large lake on a quiet day. Sadly, Winnipesauke is overrun by idiots now during prime season. But Bear Island in September is awfully nice.

And I know my friend has spent time on Winnipesaukee as well, but for her, it’s the Cape and the crowd of the summer months that make her happy. And I think that in both of our cases, it comes down to the memories our parents gave us – special times in special places. And I believe these imprints also shape who we are. From work ethic and morals to social and discriminative views. Now while I can’t say that I’ve never harbored prejudices, I can say that my Dad never discriminated against anyone in my lifetime, and my Mom never once uttered a disparaging remark – ever. As for my prejudices, they are never based on WHAT a person is, but rather WHO a person is. Oh, and skunks – I just don’t like skunks.

Now I was lucky – my parents set a good example for me (as did my grandparents). Others have not been that fortunate. My Ex is an example – but instead of wanting more for her children, a better way, she just chose to propagate what she had experienced, kind of like an “if it sucked for me, it’ll suck for you too” approach. And this is one of many reasons why she’s “The Ex”.

Now you can say it was a negative imprint from her parents, but I believe we all reach a point in life where we can grow past who our parents are or were. At least I hope so. Where we can no longer point the finger back and say “it’s their fault” for the decisions and actions we make and take in our lives. As for me, well like I said, I was lucky. And I hope my kids can grow past the imprints on their lives – all except the ones that bring them joy.